Cortana in Windows Phone 8.1
|Initial release||April 2, 2014.|
|Type||Intelligent personal assistant|
It is named after Cortana, an artificial intelligence character in Microsoft's Halo video game series, with Jen Taylor, the character's voice actress, returning to voice the personal assistant's US-specific version.
Cortana was demonstrated for the first time at the Microsoft BUILD Developer Conference (April 2–4, 2014) in San Francisco. It has been launched as a key ingredient of Microsoft's planned "makeover" of the future operating systems for Windows Phone and Windows. As of 2015[update], Cortana is available as a beta to all users of Windows Phone 8.1 in the United States (US English), China (Mandarin Chinese), and the United Kingdom (UK English). Users in certain countries can also choose to opt-in to the alpha for the English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish versions of Cortana as of August 2014.
Microsoft expects Cortana to be available globally by early 2015.
Cortana's features include being able to set reminders, recognize natural voice without the user having to input a predefined series of commands, and answer questions using information from Bing (like current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, and biographies). Windows 8.1's universal Bing SmartSearch features are incorporated into Cortana, which replaces the previous Bing Search app which is activated when a user presses the "Search" button on their device. Cortana also includes a music recognition service. Cortana can also roll dice and flip a coin by asking the commands "roll a dice" (one die), "roll the dice" (two dice), and "flip a coin", Concert Watch is a feature that helps Cortana determine which bands or musicians you are interested in by monitoring your Bing searches. Cortana also integrates with the Microsoft Band for Windows Phone devices if connected via bluetooth. On the Microsoft Band Cortana can make reminders and bring phone notifications.
Since the Lumia Denim series, launched in October 2014, active listening was added to Cortana, enabling it to be triggered with the phrase: “Hey Cortana,” even across the room and without the need to touch the phone. After the trigger phrase is spoken, Cortana can be controlled normally for tasks like setting a reminder, asking a question, or launching an app. Some devices from the United Kingdom by O2 have received the Lumia Denim update without the feature but this was later clarified as a bug and Microsoft had since fixed it.
The "Notebook" is where personal information such as interests, location data, reminders, and contacts will be stored for access by Cortana. Cortana will be able to draw upon and add to this data in order to learn the user's specific patterns and behaviors. The user will be able to view this information, with the aim of offering greater control over privacy settings by allowing them to specify what information is collected, "a level of control that goes beyond comparable assistants". Users can also delete information from the "Notebook" if they deem it undesirable for Cortana to know.
Most versions of Cortana take the form of two nested, animated circles. The circles are animated to indicate certain activities such as searching or talking.
Cortana features a "do-not-disturb" mode in which users can specify "quiet hours", something that is already available for Windows Phone 8.1 users. Users can change the settings so that Cortana calls users by their names (or nicknames). It also has an extensive library of Easter Eggs, consisting of witty and pre-determined remarks.
Cortana correctly predicted the winners of the first 14 matches of the 2014 FIFA World Cup knockout stage, including the semi-finals, before it incorrectly picked Brazil over the Netherlands in the third place play-off match. This streak topped Paul the Octopus who correctly predicted all 7 of Germany's 2010 FIFA World Cup matches as well as the Final. Furthermore Cortana can also predict the games of various other sports such as the NBA, the NFL, the Super Bowl, the ICC Cricket world cup and various European Football Leagues. Cortana can also solve mathematical equations, convert units such as between Celsius and Fahrenheit, meters and feet, and calculate the exchange rate between currencies including Bitcoin.
Cortana is region-specific, and adapts its voice to match the everyday language, culture and speech patterns of the country its user lives in. For example, the UK version of Cortana speaks with a British accent and uses British idioms, while the Chinese version, known as Xiao Na, speaks Mandarin Chinese and has an icon featuring a face and two eyes. Cortana also localizes to fit the needs of its user, and will display relevant information on subject areas such as local sports teams, businesses, TV series and stock exchanges. Cortana has been released in several countries since its launch including the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, India, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy and is expected to come to more countries over time.
Cortana updates are delivered independently of those to the main Windows Phone OS, allowing Microsoft to provide new features at a faster pace. Though not all Cortana-related features can be updated this manner as some features such as "Hey Cortana" require the Windows Phone update service.
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The Cortana personal digital assistant, which debuted on Windows Phone last year, will now also be available on Windows 10 PCs and tablets [...].
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